Remaining educated on sexual health, and staying sexually healthy, is incredibly important no matter your age, gender, or sexual identity. Sexual health goes beyond sex – it incorporates communication, physical and mental health, masturbation, consent, and contraception. By understanding how all of these aspects help with improving your sexual health, you’ll be sure to have satisfying sexual experiences no matter what.
Safe sex is more than just wearing condoms. It’s about staying sexually healthy, understanding the different contraceptive methods, detecting symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and maintaining open communication.
Contraception is essential for maintaining safe sexual practices. There are many contraceptive methods to choose from – medication, implants, condoms, and tubal litigation – all of which can prevent pregnancy; however, condoms are the only method that also prevents contracting an STI. It’s important to continue using condoms even if you choose another contraceptive method.
Northside Gynaecology offers both permanent (tubal litigation) and temporary (implants, etc.) contraception. If you’re unsure about what method is best for you, contact our office for more information.
On the off chance you may contract an STI, it’s important to know what symptoms to look out for. Symptoms will show themselves in your genital area and include: irritation, itchiness, redness, a rash, or painful toileting. If you find you may have an STI, there is no reason to be alarmed. You can contact Northside Gynaecology for a free nurse chat to discuss treatment options.
Some people may not realise that communication forms a huge part of safe sex. Whether with a long-term partner or a one-night stand, open communication is essential for healthy and satisfying sexual experiences. This includes voicing your explicit consent, and acknowledging your partner’s consent to ensure you create healthy and positive relationships.
Communicating with your partner/s before, during, and after sexual acts promotes a safe environment of mutual trust and respect, where people involved feel comfortable expressing their boundaries, needs, and desires. Acknowledging and understanding yours and your partner’s boundaries and sexual desires is fundamental for positive sexual health: everyone needs and wants different things and it’s important to make everyone involved feel comfortable in expressing this.
Sexual desires may change over time, and that’s okay. Ensure you communicate these changes, and adapt to your partner’s changing desires so you both feel comfortable and supported throughout.
Understand Your Preferences
You will never truly be satisfied sexually if you don’t know your preferences. This includes understanding what your body positively responds to through masturbation, and knowing what sexuality you identify with (if you identify with any).
Engaging in sexual activities doesn’t always require a partner. Masturbation is a solo sexual act and is a great way to understand what you do and don’t enjoy, so that when you engage in sex with a partner, you can effectively communicate your preferences. You may even find more enjoyment on your own than with a partner.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Regular exercise is great for improving your sexual health. Remaining physically fit improves your stamina which directly relates to your performance in the bedroom, while increased blood circulation is vital for arousal in both men and women, aiding in erections and increasing vaginal lubrication and clitoral sensation.
A healthy diet, while great for overall well-being, can also greatly contribute to your sexual well-being, as foods high in antioxidants (such as fruits and vegetables) boost blood circulation.
It’s important to recognise the impact of mental health on sexual health, and to acknowledge any health concerns between you and your partner. Depression, anxiety, and stress can severely affect your libido and sexual satisfaction. If you ever feel like this may be affecting your sex life, try managing your mental health with therapy, or by performing mindfulness practices like concentrated breathing and meditation.
Communicating these issues with your partner and listening to your partner’s potential concerns can also aid in healthier and more satisfied sexual experiences.
Northside Gynaecology offers a complimentary, no-obligation chat with a nurse where you can have a free health assessment and ask all your women’s health questions. Jodie Whitehead is one of our women’s health nurses and has specialist training in sexual health, so we welcome any of your questions about staying sexually healthy. Find out more about our free nurse chats here